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# Friday, 16 June 2017
2017 Virtual Conference: Genealogy Technology and Tools
Posted by Diane

Guest post by Vanessa Wieland, Dean of Family Tree University

We have another amazing virtual conference in the works (September 15-17), with three days of genealogy search tips, tricks, techniques and tools you can use to improve your genealogy search. Our lineup is still being finalized, but we’re looking forward to presentations on the following tech-based tools, plus a presentation that will compare the four DNA testing companies so you can see which test is best for you.

Cloud Technology: Preservation and Organization - Jennifer Alford

Learn how to preserve your genealogy and organize it online with these tips. You'll learn about what tools will be most useful for keeping your work in great shape.

Time Travel Technology - Lisa Louise Cooke

Go back in time to discover your ancestors with these tech tools that will help you discover the details that will bring your ancestor's history to life.

Resources for Visual Storytelling - Nancy Hendrickson

If a picture paints a thousand words, this presentation will provide you with the know-how to create great tales using visual elements.

5 Google Secrets Revealed - Lisa Louise Cooke

Google is a great resource for researching your family history and heritage, especially when you've learned these handy research tricks.

Learn more about the 2017 Fall Virtual Conference and sign up early to get the early bird discount. Take $40 off the price with coupon code FALLVCEARLY.

Genealogy Software | Tech Advice
Friday, 16 June 2017 14:41:05 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 21 March 2017
Family Tree Maker 2017 Introduces FamilySync, Ditches TreeSync
Posted by Diane

Time to Sync Your Family Tree Maker and Ancestry Trees
Important news for Family Tree Maker software users: Software MacKiev, the company that acquired Family Tree Maker from early last year, will release Family Tree Maker 2017 on March 31.

Previous versions of Family Tree Maker used something called TreeSync to sync your software with your tree on Family Tree Maker 2017 will use something else, called FamilySync, to sync your trees. As of March 29, Ancestry will no longer support TreeSync.

If you use Family Tree Maker and don't plan to upgrade to 2017, you should open the software and sync your trees before March 29. You still can use your old Family Tree Maker after that, but your trees will no longer sync.

(Note that Family Tree Maker is not afilliated with Family Tree Magazine, which hosts this blog.)

Upgrading to Family Tree Maker 2017
If you bought Family Tree Maker from Software MacKiev since March 1, 2016, you're eligible to upgrade to 2017 for free. Discounted upgrades are available for some folks who received Family Tree Maker 2014.1 or Mac3.1. Visit the Software MacKiev website and sign up for the company's newsletter for full details.

Sneak Peek at RootsMagic 7 TreeShare
Many of you have been anxiously waiting for RootsMagic software to start syncing with Ancestry trees. RootsMagic posted on its blog earlier this month that RootsMagic 7 will use technology called TreeShare to do the syncing. The new version will also add research hints from records to its WebHints feature (which also offers hints from FamilySearch, Findmypast and MyHeritage).

The post also shares RootsMagic 7 screenshots and asks for folks to be testers.

Have you switched to RootsMagic? Ready to learn the ins and out of your RootsMagic software? Take our Mastering RootsMagic online course, starting March 27, with RootsMagic expert Diana Smith.

Genealogy Software
Tuesday, 21 March 2017 12:14:11 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Wednesday, 14 December 2016
RootsMagic Explains Why the Ancestry Sync Won't Happen This Year
Posted by Diane

Ever since RootsMagic announced back in February 2016 that it was collaborating with Ancestry on the sync, inquiring genealogy minds have wanted to know, "how much longer?"

An answer of sorts came yesterday in an open letter from RootsMagic head honcho Bruce Buzbee. Although initially, "by the end of the year" seemed like a safe deadline, he writes that more time is needed to complete and properly test the new syncing feature.

Bruce includes a good explanation of the behind-the-scenes technical challenges: The API, the "system that lets Ancestry and RootsMagic talk with each other," is brand new and needed lots of testing as well as additional functionality, which took time. His team also has needed to remove and replace code to improve how the software performs certain tasks.

So the bottom line is, RootsMagic won't sync with Ancestry by Dec. 31. But "it is close, and it looks amazing," Bruce writes.

See the full letter on the RootsMagic blog. If you're interested in being a beta tester for RootsMagic's Ancestry sync features, click the link to the application at the end of the letter.

New to RootsMagic? Been using it awhile but know there's more to it? Check out Family Tree Magazine's Mastering RootsMagic independent study class download, in

SaveSave | Genealogy Software
Wednesday, 14 December 2016 12:05:32 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 09 February 2016
MyHeritage Releases Update to Free Family Tree Builder Software
Posted by Diane

MyHeritage launched version 8 of its free Family Builder desktop genealogy software, which syncs to your online tree on the MyHeritage website (you also can edit your online tree on your smartphone with the MyHeritage app).

Version 8 looks similar to the previous version, but the infrastructure of the program has been totally rewritten. That has made Family Tree Builder faster and more efficient, and it now supports trees of up to 500,000 individuals.

Read more about the new Family Tree Builder features on the MyHeritage blog. You can download Family Tree Builder for Windows or Mac from the MyHeritage website.

Genealogy Software | MyHeritage
Tuesday, 09 February 2016 10:36:39 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
Findmypast News From RootsTech: Searchable Irish Catholic Parish Registers and More
Posted by Diane

Remember the National Library of Ireland's Irish Catholic parish registers that went online for free in July, and how the digital images on that site aren't searchable? Genealogy website Findmypast just announced it will launch an indexed, searchable collection of these records in March. I can't wait! I'm hoping this will help me find a place of origin for my Irish immigrant ancestors. See more details on the Irish Genealogy News blog.

Findmypast also has released 33 million US marriage records in partnership with FamilySearch (so you also can search these records on the free FamilySearch website). Findmypast will continue to add to this collection, which eventually will contain more than 450 million names from 2,800 US counties. This first installment of the collection is free to search through Monday, Feb. 15. Read more details here.

At last week's RootsTech conference, Findmypast announced it has formed partnerships with several other genealogy companies so the sites' record collections can be embedded within the partner products. Partners include:

Want to take advantage of the growing genealogy record collections at Findmypast? Our Findmypast web guide can help!

findmypast | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software | UK and Irish roots
Tuesday, 09 February 2016 10:31:10 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 02 February 2016
Family Tree Maker Returns PLUS Ancestry Partners With RootsMagic
Posted by Diane

Those of you wondering what you'll do with your family tree now that has discontinued Family Tree Maker genealogy software will probably welcome these two new options for storing your computerized family tree data and records:

  • announced today it has sold Family Tree Maker software to a company called Software MacKiev (which has been the developer of Family Tree Maker for Mac for six years). Family Tree Maker owners will receive updates and be able to purchase new versions from Software MacKiev, and they'll continue to be able to save their trees to, use hints and search from within the software. (The announcement doesn't specifically mention syncing, though.)

    Update: Here's how responded to my question about syncing: "Family Tree Maker will continue to have syncing capability with Ancestry trees, however this feature may evolve as Software MacKiev updates the software.

    "It will use different underlying technology than our current TreeSync but it effectively provides the same basic functionality of allowing the user to keep data in their online tree and data in their desktop tree consistent." 
  • also announced a new agreement with RootsMagic to connect the website to RootsMagic genealogy software by the end of 2016. That means you'll be able to use RootsMagic as your desktop software while using your Ancestry Member Tree as your online version.
RootsMagic does say its software will sync with Ancestry trees, as well as directly import Family Tree Maker files (no need to export a GEDCOM first). Read more details and a Q&A on the RootsMagic website.

"We have heard your concerns and are working to provide the solutions you requested," states the announcement from "These new agreements will make it possible to preserve your work on Ancestry and Family Tree Maker and enable future features and benefits to help you discover your family history."

Wondering whether all the fuss could've been avoided when Family Tree Maker's retirement was announced in December? You're not alone. spokesperson Matthew Deighton says that the software purchase contract wasn't yet signed when the announcement was made.

For more details on these agreements, see the blog. | Genealogy Software
Tuesday, 02 February 2016 20:44:24 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Wednesday, 09 December 2015 Announces End of Family Tree Maker Software
Posted by Diane

You've probably heard by now: announced on Tuesday that it will discontinue its Family Tree Maker software. (I feel compelled to mention here that Family Tree Magazine isn't related to the software or to

In a post on the Ancestry blog, Senior Vice President of Product Management Kendall Hulet said Family Tree Maker will no longer be sold as of Dec. 31, 2015. will continue to provide support and fix bugs "at least through Jan. 1, 2017." During that time, Tree Sync, the feature that syncs your Ancestry Member Tree with Family Tree Maker software, will continue to work.

Why retire a popular program? "We’ve taken a hard look at the declining desktop software market and the impact this has on being able to continue to provide product enhancements and support that our users need," Hulet writes.

Software in other fields is moving to versions available only via the cloud by subscription, such as Adobe Photoshop and InDesign software. Advantages include the ability to automatically roll out updates, access from multiple devices, and online data storage.

But switching can be a pain, especially when you're using older desktop software that's not compatible with the cloud version, and you need to find new tools or create a new workflow, and you feel forced to keep information in the cloud, where you have less control over it (remember the DDoS attack last year, when the site was inaccessible for several days?).

My guess is that will try to move Family Tree Maker users to Ancestry Member Trees—hopefully, by enhancing the online trees (at least for subscribers) with features such as reporting and easier source citation.

If you do go with a member tree (or you already have one), make sure you download the records you find to your computer. Otherwise, if ever you let your subscription lapse, you'll lose access to them.

If you want to stick with a desktop application, look for offers from other software companies who want to acquire former Family Tree Maker customers.

Update: Several other genealogy software companies have set up special pricing and information for Family Tree Maker users looking to find another desktop program. Here are links to those we know of:
The Software Toolkit on can help you scout out your options.

Lisa Louise Cooke has helpful perspective and user tips for dealing with the end of Family Tree Maker on the Genealogy Gems blog.

Update: Here's another helpful post from Genea-Musings, on short-term and long-term options for what to do with your data.

You can read Kendall Hulet's announcement on the Ancestry blog here. | Genealogy Software
Wednesday, 09 December 2015 09:20:38 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 24 June 2015
New Heredis 2015 Genealogy Software Offers Major Updates for Windows and Mac
Posted by Diane

Heredis genealogy software has released a major upgrade with Heredis 2015 for Windows or Mac users.

New features include:
  • Online searching: From a person's profile, launch searches of online collections in archives and libraries (Heredis suggests which ones to search based on information in your tree). Automatically capture details from online finds and save them to your tree.  to search according to
  • Images: A new photo tool allows you to identify people in images uploaded to Heredis, and if a person isn't in your tree yet, add him or her directly from the photo tool. You also can capture images of ancestors' signatures from records, edit record images and photos uploaded to Heredis, and create and share slideshows and online albums (shown above).
  • Data entry: You can enter an event (such as a census appearance) once and easily apply it to the rest of the family as needed, instead of entering that same event for each person named in a record.
  • Mapping: View interactive maps showing where your ancestors lived and scroll their geographical migrations by place or time period.
Learn more about the new features in Heredis 2015 and see screenshots for the Windows version here and the Mac version here.

Windows users can upgrade for $19.99, or purchase the complete version for $29.99. Mac users  can purchase version 2015 for $24.99 until July 12, when the price goes up to $49.99.

Heredis also has a free app for the iPad/iPhone that lets you view your tree and add or delete individuals, and is working on an Android version.

You can see reviews of previous Heredis versions and other genealogy programs in Family Tree Magazine's Online Genealogy Software Guide.

Genealogy Software
Wednesday, 24 June 2015 14:21:02 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 02 December 2014
New Release: RootsMagic 7 Genealogy Software
Posted by Diane

RootsMagic has released version 7 of its genealogy software. The new version includes both new features and updates that make the current features easier to use, according to this press release from RootsMagic. Here's the main screen:

New features in RootsMagic 7 include:
  • WebHints: Hints to records from both FamilySearch and MyHeritage that match profiles in your family tree. Read more about the MyHeritage record matching here.

  • MyRootsMagic: New accounts let you easily publish and maintain multiple online trees, which you can make public or private.

  • DataClean: find and fix problems (such as typos) in names and places in your database.

  • File Compare: Compare any two RootsMagic files side by side, and easily transfer information or media between them.

  • QuickGroups: Instantly add or remove an individual to or from multiple groups at once.
Here's a breakdown of all the RootsMagic 7 features, with icons to indicate what's "new" and "better."

RootsMagic is Windows software, though you can use MacBridge for RootsMagic to run it on a Mac.

New RootsMagic users can purchase version 7 for $29.95. If you use a previous version of RootsMagic or its predecessor, Family Origins, you can upgrade for $19.95.

The free RootsMagic Essentials, a "lite" version of the software that has many of the core features, also has been updated. It's fully compatible with the full version.

Look for a review of RootsMagic 7 in an upcoming issue of Family Tree Magazine.

Genealogy Software
Tuesday, 02 December 2014 08:50:12 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 01 August 2014
Genealogy News Corral: July 28-August 1
Posted by Diane

  • Wholly Genes software owner Bob Velke has announced that The Master Genealogist software will be discontinued. In the company's July 29 newsletter, he stated that the market for the software's advanced features is insufficient to support the infrastructure necessary to continue developing the software. He added that health issues are a contributing factor.

    Official software support will end at the end of this year; sales will continue through September. The user-to-user support forum and mailing list will still be available.

"Who Do You Think You Are?" | | Genealogy for kids | Genealogy Software
Friday, 01 August 2014 12:09:13 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 17 February 2014
Now Available: Free Family Tree Magazine Podcast February Episode
Posted by Diane

The February 2014 Family Tree Magazine's podcast, hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke and sponsored by Blackblaze online backup service, is now available for your listening pleasure!

The topics include
  • six simple ways (including three free ones) to use
  • Lisa's favorite free family history tools
  • a peek at Family Tree University's upcoming Virtual Genealogy Conference
  • what to look for in the March/April 2014 Family Tree Magazine, a special online genealogy issue
You can listen to the Family Tree Magazine Podcast for free in iTunes or at Enjoy! | Family Tree Magazine articles | Family Tree University | Genealogy Apps | Genealogy Software | Podcasts
Monday, 17 February 2014 12:48:44 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 07 February 2014
Genealogy News Corral: RootsTech 2014 Edition
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch's RootsTech conference, going on through Saturday in Salt Lake City, kicked off its Friday with a dynamic keynote address by the Legal Genealogist Judy Russell. She started with an archivist's statement that oral family history can be lost in just three generations, because it isn't purposely and accurately passed down (see the exact quote on Judy's blog). The recording isn't yet available on the RootsTech website, but it will be.

Remember that you can watch live streamed presentations on the home page, too. (Try switching browsers if you just see a black screen. I had to switch to Chrome from my usual Firefox.) 

Yesterday, I posted news from FamilySearch, including a new obituary indexing initiative and free access to, MyHeritage and at Family History Centers (and, for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, from home).

Here are a few more news items:
  • Subscription/pay-per-view website is restructuring its subscription offerings to include a one-month option. A one-month US subscription for $9.95, which includes all records from the USA. A one month World subscription costs $19.95, which includes access to records from around the world.
  • Subscription genealogy site MyHeritage has added 815 million US public records of US residents to its SuperSearch. This compilation was assembled from telephone directories, property tax assessments, credit applications, voter registration lists and other records available to the public. The information spans the last five decades, making it helpful for finding living relatives. Read more on the MyHeritage blog.
  • Mocavo has added 20,000 new databases, bringing its database count to more than 250,000. They're free to access if you search one database at a time (find them listed here). To view match details when you run a search across all databases, you must be a premium member ($7 or $9 per month). One thing you can do is search all databases for an ancestor, view the match "snippets" for promising-looking records, note the databases they're in, then go to the database listings and search the ones you need.
  • In a low-fanfare breakfast with a small group of bloggers and media, representatives from subscription site said that records of Mexico and Germany are an area of content focus, among other plans. I'll once again send you the extremely thorough Ancestry Insider for additional details.

  • RootsMagic, maker of RootsMagic software, just launched a RootsMagic app for Android devices. You can access your RootsMagic files, explore your tree, view all your RootsMagic data and more. Read about the RootsMagic app here, and download it here
If you want to see what it's like to be at RootsTech, Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings is posting detailed daily reports (including links to posts by other bloggers who are at the conference), as is Miriam Robbins at AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors. | FamilySearch | findmypast | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | MyHeritage
Friday, 07 February 2014 16:20:21 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 03 January 2014
Your First Genealogy News Corral of 2014
Posted by Diane

This is a catch-up genealogy news corral—aside from a day spent at the Kenton County (Ky.) Public Library and the Cincinnati History Library and Archives, I didn't do much genealogy over Christmas and New Year's. Here's a summary of what's been happening in the genealogy-sphere:
  • Family Tree DNA announced it has fully integrated X-chromosome matching into Family Finder, its autosomal DNA test. On their matches page, Family Finder test-takers can use a filter to display only X-chromosome matches, or X-Matches. You'll find a good explanation of this feature, and a link to more information on X-chromosome inheritance patterns, on the DNAeXplained blog.
  • The National Genealogical Society has issued a call for papers for its 2015 family history conference in St. Charles, Mo. (just down the road from of my college stomping grounds in St. Louis).  If you're interested in lecturing at the conference, check out the guidelines on the NGS website and mark the April 2 submission deadline on your calendar.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 03 January 2014 15:03:34 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 06 December 2013
Genealogy News Corral, December 2-6
Posted by Diane

  • Millennia Corp. has released version 8 of its Legacy Family Tree genealogy software. Updates include Origins and Migrations reports, animated Migration Mapping, instant checking for duplicate individuals as you enter new relatives, alerts to potential problems such as typos or unusual gaps between dates, source labels to attache to documents, source citations on pedigree charts, and more. The Standard Edition of Legacy Family Tree is free; Legacy 8.0 Deluxe packages cost $29.95 to $59.95 (upgrade packages cost $21.95 to $51.95). Learn more at the Legacy Family Tree website.
  • Online registration is open for the National Genealogical Society 2014 Family History Conference, May 7-10 in Richmond, Va. Full-conference fees range from $195 to $265 (save money by registering before March 24); single-day registration is $105 to $115. You can order a printed syllabus for an additional $25.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software
Friday, 06 December 2013 08:56:55 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 22 November 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Nov. 18-22
Posted by Diane

  • Heredis 2014 for Windows is now available, with highlights including a Search Wizard that lets you display known information about a relative and those around him, helping you note areas where more research is needed. A new Migrations map displays ancestral migrations with numbered pins and lists of life events that happened in each place. See all the new 2014 Heredis for Windows features here.
  • has a collection of data from Associated Press news articles. The collections include a name index to AP stories (1905-1990), a subject index to AP stories (1937-1985), and AP stories and news features (1937-1985) that were selected by news libraries as being "of national or international importance." The latter two collections are searchable by keyword.
Two additional collections, which you can browse, the AP Service Bulletin (1904-1927) and The AP World (1943-2001) are publications for news organizations and journalists. These may be most useful if you're researching someone who worked in the media. See more details on the blog. | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software
Friday, 22 November 2013 14:52:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
A Genealogy Dream in the Making: OCR Software That Reads Old Handwriting
Posted by Diane

Mocavo announced this week that it's making progress on optical character recognition (OCR) software that will read cursive handwriting, which could revolutionize how digitized records are put online.

OCR software is often used to index typeset genealogy records, such as newspapers, city directories and family history books. It lets you search every word in those records, without any person ever having to read the record and extract names and dates.

Current OCR software is pretty good at reading those typeset documents, although it makes mistakes when documents or digitized images have problems such as fading, blurring and ink spots. When I search OCR-indexed records for my last name, I get a lot of irrelevant matches containing the phrase "had had."

OCR software that can read not just typed or printed words, but also cursive handwriting of various languages, historical eras and styles, means digital records could become searchable online a lot faster. Potential benefits include:
  • There would be no need for armies of volunteers to index records.
  • You would be able to search the entire text of documents, not just the names and dates captured by indexers.
  • Full transcriptions of documents would be readily available.
Matt Garner, a developer Mocavo inherited last year when it acquired Ready Micro, has been instrumental in developing the software.

On the Mocavo blog, company founder Cliff Shaw described the process, which first involved developing OCR software that could  "perfectly separate handwriting from typewritten text."

Now, Shaw says, the company is getting closer to the "Holy Grail" of being able to accurately read handwritten text. "With limited vocabularies (potential answers), we’re achieving 90-95% accuracy," he writes.

They still have work to do to achieve the ability to read handwriting of a wide range of styles, and to overcome problems with faded or ink-spotted documents I mentioned above. Read about the software and see examples on the Mocavo blog.

Our Master the Best Genealogy Websites one-week online workshop will make you a research wizard at Mocavo,, and other genealogy websites. Check it now at

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 22 November 2013 09:54:52 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 13 September 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Sept. 9-13
Posted by Diane

  • Researching today (Sept. 13) or Monday at the US National Archives? This notice just appeared on the Archives' facebook page:

    "The 3:30 records pull for today (September 13) has been canceled due to significant staffing issues stemming from a problem relating to payroll activities at 22 Federal agencies nationwide.

    While we are making every effort to contain these problems, there is some possibility the afternoon pull scheduled for Monday, September 16, may be affected. We will advise you of the situation as we receive information.
  • More (and happier) National Archives news: If you happen to be in the Washington, DC, area this month, maybe you can catch one of the National Archives' free genealogy workshops. Sessions include the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act (Sept. 17), Gold Star Mothers (Sept. 18), Using National Archives Online Resources (Sept. 19), Anti-Tax Petitions from the Civil War to the New Deal (Sept. 21), and more. For more information, go to NARA's DC-area events page and scroll down.
  • Still more National Archives news: NARA is opening the David M. Rubenstein Gallery "Records of Rights" exhibition on Nov. 8, and invites you to help select the first original landmark document to be featured in the exhibit. You can vote online for one of five documents by visiting the Records of Rights Vote web page.

  • has released Family Tree Maker 2014 for Windows. Updates include a new family view, improved TreeSync (which synchronizes your tree int eh software with your online Ancestry Member Tree), organizational tools that let you sort children by birth order and view people by location, more options for charts and reports, the ability to export a single branch of your tree, more editing options, and improved merging.
You can download Family Tree Maker 2014 or get it on CD. (PS: Family Tree Magazine is not affiliated with Family Tree Maker software or with We hear this question often, so I just wanted to answer it for you in case you were about to ask.)
  • This week, FamilySearch added more than 352,000 indexed records to the free collections at Records come from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and the United States, and include Czech Republic censuses, Hungary civil registrations, Polish Catholic church records and the US Social Security Death Index. View the full list of updates and click through to search these collections here. | FamilySearch | Genealogy Software | Libraries and Archives | NARA
Friday, 13 September 2013 14:54:13 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 21 June 2013
Genealogy News Corral, June 17-21
Posted by Diane

  • In related news, on Sunday, June 30, FamilySearch will shut off the ability for vendors (such as software companies) to "write" to trees on, which is actually the old version of FamilySearch Family Trees. That means that if you're using a third-party product that works with the system, you won't be able to use it to update your tree. Read more about this on Renee Zamora's blog.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Software | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 21 June 2013 12:35:21 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 19 April 2013
Genealogy News Corral, April 15-19
Posted by Diane

Version 7 also lets you use the sites Record Matching service, which automatically searches MyHeritage collections and trees for your ancestors (you'll need a subscription to view some results). Other updates include a more graphical look and support for 40 languages, including Chinese and Korean. Read more details on the MyHeritage blog.
  • There's a new database of burials at Hart Island, the public burial ground ("potter's field") for New York City. The earliest recorded burial there dates to May 1881; however, the database covers burials since 1977.
  • A new PBS series called "Genealogy Roadshow" is looking for people with family history mysteries to be on the show. Check out the casting call here; the deadline is May 12.
  • Heredis is having a sale through April 28 on its family tree software for PC (37 percent off, at $24.99) and Mac (33 percent off, at $39.99). Find out more about the software at the Heredis website.

Cemeteries | Genealogy Software | Genetic Genealogy
Friday, 19 April 2013 14:41:25 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 13 February 2013
FTU Virtual Genealogy Conference: Things You Didn’t Know Your Genealogy Software Could Do + Using Irish Censuses
Posted by Diane

Here's another inside look at a class available during our Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference—courtesy of the instructor himself. Take it away, Rick Crume:

The most popular genealogy programs have tools to help you record your family history efficiently, plan your research and search online databases. But if you’re a typical genealogy software user, you don’t take advantage of all of those features.

You’ve probably mastered entering birth, marriage and death information in your genealogy software, but have you customized your program to fit your unique needs?

You're doing better than most genealogists if you document your sources, but are you taking advantage of timesaving techniques for this crucial, but mundane, task? And are you exploiting your program’s tools for searching within your family file and in online databases?

In my class 10 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With Your Genealogy Software, I'll show you how to use these and other features in Family Tree Maker, Legacy Family Tree and RootsMagic.

I'm also teaching a class on Identifying Ancestors in Irish Census Records. Because so many Irish census records have been lost over the years, you might assume they're of no use in your genealogy research. In fact, it’s well worth checking Irish censuses, especially now that most of the existing ones are online and easy to search.

Most 19th-century Irish census records have been lost, but the ones you need just could have survived. (Mine did!) And fortunately, the 1901 and 1911 censuses of Ireland survive and are easily accessible online for free. I'll show you several tips for searching them and suggest how they can be useful to your research even if your ancestors left Ireland before 1901.

Family Tree University's Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference, Feb. 22-24, gives you an all-access pass to 15 half-hour video classes, live chats with genealogy experts, and exclusive message board to network with instructors and attendees, and a swag bag of freebies. Click here for more details on the conference.

See these guest posts from other Winter 2013 Virtual Genealogy Conference instructors:

The Virtual Genealogy Conference is sponsored by

Family Tree University | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Software | Tech Advice | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, 13 February 2013 14:10:03 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Wednesday, 08 August 2012
Record Relatives' Stories With New, Free iPhone App
Posted by Diane

If you're headed to a family reunion or even just visiting Grandma's house, here's a free app you might consider downloading to your iPhone (let's hope there's an Android version out soon):

The Saving Memories Forever app lets you record family stories, then store them on the Saving Memories Forever website.

The app is free, as is a basic membership on the site. An enhanced site membership (lets you have unlimited "Story Tellers" and "Story Listeners," add photos to stories and more) costs $3.99 per month. You'll find a comparison between the basic and enhanced memberships here.

From the app's Quick Start guide (download it from the Saving Memories Forever website), it looks like the app is designed to record responses to questions, rather than a freeform oral history interview.

If you don't have an iPhone, you can upload audio files from your computer to the Saving Memories Forever website, but they must be mp3 files. Learn more about how the site works here.

Not sure what to ask Grandma? We list 20 questions to ask your family members on (free article). 

And if your interviewee isn't much of a talker, you'll find our downloadable guide to oral history interviews with reluctant or reticent relatives on

Become a better genealogist and connect with other family historians from the convenience of home at Family Tree University's Fall 2012 Virtual Genealogy Conference, taking place Sept. 14-16. Hurry! Early bird registration ends Friday, Aug. 10 at 11:59 p.m. Just enter code FTUVCEARLY at checkout to save $50!

Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | Oral History
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 15:43:54 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 06 January 2012 Updates Family Tree Builder Software
Posted by Diane

Family networking site has released version 6 of its free Family Builder software for Windows.

In general, updates include automatic research in historical records and new features for viewing and sharing family information:

  • Following MyHeritage's recent acquisition of genealogy data site World Vital Records, Family Tree Builder 6.0 adds the site's historical content to its features. The software automatically searches for historical records relevant to the people in your family tree whenever you add or edit information. A separate World Vital Records subscription is required to view records.

  • Family Builder 6.0 also improves integration with your family websit e. You can produce charts of Family Statistics (such as most commonly used first names or average lifespan), view profile pages and family timelines, and more. You also can view Family Events such as gatherings and birthdays on a monthly or yearly calendar.
See the full list of updates and more details about each one on the blog.

The new Family Tree Builder 6.0 is available for Windows in 37 languages. Download it for free from

Genealogy Software | MyHeritage
Friday, 06 January 2012 14:14:55 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 16 December 2011
Software Upgrade News for Mac-Using Genealogists
Posted by Diane

Recent software releases are giving Mac-using genealogists new options:
  • MacFamilyTreeSynium has released version 6.2 of its MacFamilyTree desktop software and version 1.1 of the MobileFamilyTree Pro app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Both feature a new Tree Chart showing all connected persons in a family tree, as well as new reports, improved GEDCOM support and more. The Family Quiz, previously available only in the mobile app, is now also part of the MacFamilyTree software.

Users of MacFamilyTree 6 or MobileFamilyTree Pro 1.0 can upgrade to the new versions for free. Those with earlier versions of MacFamilyTree can update to the most recent version for $12.50.

Otherwise, a holiday sale lets you purchase MacFamilyTree 6.2 for $29 (requires Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or later) and MobileFamilyTree Pro 1.1 for $7.99.

  • has released Family Tree Maker for Mac 2, which includes TreeSync. This feature lets you sync your family tree in the software with your tree on

Also new: You can take photos using your iSight or built-in camera and import them directly into Family Tree Maker. If you’re on OS X Lion, you can use the new full-screen capability to fill your entire desktop with the Family Tree Maker workspace.

You can get Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 in the online store (it's currently discounted to $52.49) or at retailers such as , Fry’s Home Electronics, and Micro Center. | Genealogy Software
Friday, 16 December 2011 14:04:45 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 28 November 2011
RootsMagic 5 Software Released Today
Posted by Diane

RootsMagic has released RootsMagic 5, the latest version of its genealogy software for Windows, along with an update to the free RootsMagic Essentials software.

RootsMagic 5 includes more than 80 new feature and enhancements to existing ones. New features include:

  • Timeline View: Show a person’s life in context with events from his or her own life and the lives of family members.

  • CountyCheck: Confirm the existence of a county, state, or country on any given date from a multinational database, and correct place-name errors in your family database.

  • Research Manager: Keep track of research goals, sources and results for a person, family or place in your tree. “On This Day” List: View family events along with famous births, deaths and historical events for any given day of the year.

  • Media Tagging: Tag your images and other media with people, families, sources or places. (For example, tag an image of a census record with the people, families and places named in the record, as well as the census source citation.)

Learn more about the updates in a free "What's New in RootsMagic 5?" webinar Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 5 p.m. Mountain Time (7 Eastern, 6 Central, 4 Pacific). If you’re interested, click here to sign up ASAP, as attendance is limited. (FYI, RootsMagic usually puts recordings of past webinars on its website for those who missed them.)

The free RootsMagic 5 Essentials contains many core features from the RootsMagic software, and the two products are fully compatible with one another.

RootsMagic 5 works on Windows 7, Vista, XP or 2000. It’s available online or by calling 1-800-766-8762.

New users can get the software for $29.95. Users of previous versions of RootsMagic and its predecessor, Family Origins, can upgrade to RootsMagic 5 for $19.95.

Genealogy Software
Monday, 28 November 2011 11:16:11 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, 27 October 2011
New App Puts a Scanner in Your Pocket
Posted by Diane

A free iPhone app released today from memory-sharing site 1000memories makes your phone work like a scanner.

The Shoebox scanning app helps you digitize, organize and share collections of photos from the past.

You use the camera on your iPhone to snap a picture of a photo. Shoebox auto-detects the edges of the photo, then crops and straightens it. You can add information such as dates, names, and locations, then upload the photo as a JPG to There, you can be organize and share your pictures.

Of course, the quality of Shoebox "scans" depends on the phone's camera. If you have the latest iPhone, the 4S, your digitized Shoebox photos will be on par with what you'd produce with a typical desktop scanner, 1000memories cofounder Jonathan Good told me. The 4S has an 8.0 MP sensor for high-resolution mobile scans, as well as an improved f2.4 lens for quality lower-light scans.

Good says he also gets excellent results using his iPhone 4. The app is compatible with all previous iPhone models, as well as the iPad.

An Android version is coming soon, Good added (to the delight of this Android user).

“The popularity of the iPhone camera has proven that people want something that’s quick, accessible, and easy to share,” says 1000memories' other cofounder, Rudy Adler. "For us, that’s what providing a social mobile scanner is about - making it as easy as possible for people to get their photo collections digitized and shared with the people they care about.”

It'll certainly make scanning a box of photos quicker, and it'll be easier to digitize photos in your relatives' possession—no need to persuade Aunt Bertha to let you cart her precious album home.

Note that the app outputs a JPG file, but the TIF format, which creates uncompressed files, is the most widely used type of file for digital master photos. That lack of compression is also why TIF files are large and impractical for electronic sharing. So you may want to create TIF backups of important pictures.

Go here to learn more about Shoebox and download it.

Genealogy Software | Photos | saving and sharing family history
Thursday, 27 October 2011 11:04:46 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Thursday, 29 September 2011
Personal Historian 2 Software Released
Posted by Diane

Genealogy software company RootsMagic has released Personal Historian 2, a new version of its software for writing life stories of your relatives and yourself.

The software creates an interactive timeline to keep individual stories organized, give context to life events and let you write stories in any order you want. Then it compiles the stories into a book with table of contents, chapters, pictures, indexes and more. You can print the book at home, edit it in a word processing program, have it professionally published, and share it.

Features include:

  • step-by-step wizards
  • filtering and searching of stories
  • a library of LifeCapsules—timelines, historical events, fads and memory triggers covering a variety of subjects
  • importing of word processor documents, photographs and other data
  • importing of events, dates and notes from your genealogy software
  • more powerful publishing and output options

Many of these core features are in a free edition of the software called Personal Historian Essentials, which is fully compatible with the paid version. 

Through Oct. 31, Personal Historian 2 is available for an introductory price of $19.95. Thereafter, the price will be $29.95. Learn more on the Personal Historian website

Look for a review or Personal Historian 2 in an upcoming Family Tree Magazine.

Genealogy Software | saving and sharing family history
Thursday, 29 September 2011 10:57:10 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Family Tree Maker 2012 Released With Online Tree Syncing
Posted by Diane just announced the release of Family Tree Maker 2012, the latest version of its desktop genealogy software. (Note that Family Tree Magazine is not affiliated with Family Tree Maker software.)

Current Family Tree Maker users have been looking forward to the most-touted feature in the 2012 version: TreeSync, which lets users sync their trees in Family Tree Maker with their online trees at—including attached photos and historical records.

“Now with the combination of, the Ancestry mobile app and the new Family Tree Maker, users can work on their family tree anywhere, anytime,” says Eric Shoup,'s senior vice president of product.

Other improvements in Family Tree Maker 2012 include:

  • easier user interface

  • upgraded help content and video tutorials

  • improved content-generation and editing options to create “Smart Stories” about family history and family members

  • ability to combine families into one tree, bringing step families and adopted individuals into the main family tree

  • simple generation labels and text boxes to make family trees more interesting and informative

  • upgraded personalization capabilities in charts, letting users add their own images, adding narrative text and displaying explanatory generation labels

  • ability to generate an index report of every person in a tree with birth, marriage and death dates

  • ability to chart the line of descendancy between an ancestor and any descendant in the tree

Read more about the new version at the website

Family Tree Maker 2012 for PC starts at $39.99 and is available at, as well as retailers including Best Buy, Office Depot and The new software comes with a free membership or free trial to the historical record collections at, depending which package you purchase (you need internet access, of course, to access online features).

The next version of Family Tree Maker for Mac, when it’s released by the end of 2011, also will include the TreeSync capability.

Look for reviews of the new Family Tree Maker in an upcoming Family Tree Magazine. | Genealogy Software
Thursday, 29 September 2011 10:29:54 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 09 September 2011
What I Learned Today at the FGS Conference
Posted by Diane

Instead of the regular Friday Genealogy News Corral, I'm sharing some things I learned at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference today:
  • AncestorSync, the folks in the booth next to me, is a way to share genealogy data or sync desktop and online trees without downloading a GEDCOM and uploading it somewhere else (or manually adding the same ancestors in multiple places). So far, it works with Ancestral Quest, Legacy, Mac Family Tree, PAF, RootsMagic and The Master Genealogist desktop programs, and FamilySearch, Geni and OurFamilyology online tree sites, with more to come.
  • The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania (GSP) is having a Pennsylvania Family workshop with Nov. 5. Twelve presentations include experts from plus additional speakers including Lisa Alzo and Dear Myrtle.

GSP also is working on a new website, so keep an eye on GenPa.

  • 1,000 Memories is a website where you and relatives upload photos, audio and video, and written stories about ancestors—a way of sharing the photos that you inherited, and seeing the ones handed down through your cousin Edna’s branch.
  • Sort Your Story is software that helps you organize your data and digitized documents. You enter your data in the software’s profiler and use the software to organize documents. The profiler also helps you see what information you’re missing for each person in your tree.
  • is a service that links orphaned heirlooms with the families that originally owned them. The site works with antiques dealers who have items with family connections—currently, it lists items associated with 40,000 families. You can search the site to see what’s associated with your surname, but you need to join to view information about the listings.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | saving and sharing family history
Friday, 09 September 2011 21:06:04 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [14]
# Friday, 19 August 2011
Genealogy News Corral, August 15-19
Posted by Diane

The big news this week, of course, was Footnote’s new military focus and name change to Fold3, the free 1940 census images and index to hit mid-April 2012, and the hullabaloo at Among this week’s other happenings:
FamilySearch | Free Databases | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software
Friday, 19 August 2011 11:08:38 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [17]
# Friday, 12 August 2011
Genealogy News Corral, August 8-12
Posted by Diane

  • Congratulations to Lisa Louise Cooke, podcaster and blogger at Genealogy Gems (and Family Tree Magazine podcast host). named Lisa’s Genealogy Gems Podcast app a must-have in the Hobby category of its AppList. reviewers called it “a great resource for both amateur and professional Genealogists … The interface is easy to use and the type and controls are larger, making this application ideal even for older users.”

The Genealogy Gems podcast app features streaming of the Genealogy Gems podcast, plus show notes and bonus material. It’s available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad (at the iTunes store) and Android phone (in the Marketplace).

  • FamilySearch added 4.3 million record images this week, nearly half of those to its Hungary Civil Registration, 1895–1980, collection (my husband is a quarter Hungarian, so this moves up his tree a few notches on my to-do list).
Other new records come from Austria, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Panama, and the US. Note these record images aren't yet indexed, so you'll need to browse them. See the updated collections and link to them from here. | FamilySearch | Free Databases | Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software
Friday, 12 August 2011 12:00:13 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Friday, 17 June 2011
Genealogy News Corral, June 13-17
Posted by Diane

  • The renowned genealogy portal site Cyndi’s List has been upgraded with improved navigation, a custom database, and a custom administrative interface to make using the site quicker and easier for both visitors and Cyndi. Visit the site at

Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | immigration records | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 17 June 2011 11:38:07 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Friday, 27 May 2011
Genealogy News Corral, May 23-27
Posted by Diane

  • The new iPhone app (1BGraves) lets you contribute to the site’s gravestone image database while on the road. Even without the app, you can add transcriptions to the site's online database. On the site, you can search gravestone records by person or cemetery (it looks like few stones are recorded yet, but you can find cemeteries listed with maps showing their locations).
  • The entire 1930 Mexico Census is now complete on FamilySearch. This indexing project started in September2007 and encompassed 13 million records. 
  • Here’s an update on a smaller genealogy subscription site you may not be familiar with: Family Tree Connection, launched in 2003, is approaching 2 million records. The names were transcribed from more than 5,400 documents including Masonic lodge rosters, military rosters, insurance claims, tax lists, orphanage records, club and society member lists, prisoner logs and mug shots, school catalogs, yearbooks, railroad employee information, rural telephone directories, church member lists and more.
  • has added new US WWII Navy Muster Rolls (1938-1949) and a US Navy Cruise Books Index (1918-2009) to its military records collection. | FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Software
Friday, 27 May 2011 09:30:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 10 May 2011
New Genealogy Tech Products Roll Out at NGS Conference
Posted by Diane

Two new products being introduced at the National Genealogical Society's annual Family History conference, getting underway today in Charleston, SC, include:
  • GenDetective software, a release from RumbleSoft Inc., analyzes your genealogical data and makes research recommendations based on missing or incomplete data. You can generate reports based on a location, time period, family line or individual, and print or view them on an iPad, iPhone, PDA, Droid smart phone or tablet (Xoom), Kindle, eBook reader, net book (mini), or laptop.
A feature I think looks especially useful: If you’re visiting somewhere for business, vacation or genealogy, you can create a research itinerary for that locale.
  • Many genealogists have family information in their genealogy software and online, and don't want to update their trees in both places. If that's you, AncestorSync could be what you need.
This utility, from Orem, Utah-based Real-Time Collaboration, lets you synchronize your family tree, source documents, citations and notes across all your computers and your online tree (the developers have partnerships with online tree sites FamilySearch, Geni and ourFamilyology). You can download, upload, or synchronize your tree “without anyone or anything getting lost in the process,” according to the announcement.
AncestorSync supports program formats including Ancestral Quest, Legacy Family Tree, Personal Ancestral File and RootsMagic, and will soon support The Master Genealogist and MacFamilyTree. It’ll be available in June for a $15 annual fee, and is PC- and Mac-compatible

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Software | Tech Advice
Tuesday, 10 May 2011 09:24:54 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 11 January 2011
Eight Genealogy Programs Receive User Choice Awards
Posted by Diane

Checking out reviews is a great step to help you decide which genealogy software program is best for you. The website GenSoftReviews, which has gathered more than 720 reviews in two years, has named its 2010 Users Choice Award recipients.

All programs with at least 10 reviews and user ratings of 4 or higher out of 5 received the Users Choice Award. Those are (in order starting with the highest-ranked):

You can get quick facts about these programs, as well as links to Family Tree Magazine reviews, from our free online Genealogy Software Guide.

See the full GenSoftReviews User Choice Awards announcement here.

What's your favorite genealogy software, and why? Click Comments to let us know.

Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, 11 January 2011 09:34:25 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 10 January 2011
Genealogy News Corral: Jan. 3-7
Posted by Diane

Here's our weekly news roundup from last week:

The $99 early bird registration ends Jan. 15 for the RootsTech 2011 conference, taking place Feb. 10-12 in Salt Lake City. Learn more about the conference and register on the RootsTech website

RootsMagic is offering several free webinars to help you use your RootsMagic genealogy software. You can view the available classes and register on Classes are limited to the first thousand people; a recordings will be available for viewing after a class takes place. has made Family Tree Maker For Mac available for download from the new Mac App Store for $99.99. Learn more about the program at The software also is available from’s online store

A TV show in the works is looking for “families who reinvent traditional dishes to reflect their unique cultural backgrounds and their love of American cuisine.” The show also seeks family stories that revolve around food. See the casting call and instructions for responding on the Geneabloggers blog

The British genealogy subscription website has published more than 9 million records from the Society of Genealogists in London. They include Boyd’s Marriage Index (1538 to 1840), Boyd’s London Burials (1538 to 1872), Faculty Office Marriage License Allegations (1701 to 1850), Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills Index (1750 to 1800) and more. You can search indexes and transcriptions with a FindMyPast subscription or pay-per-view credits, then order copies of some original records from the Society of Genealogists. More of the records will become available during 2011.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Software | UK and Irish roots
Monday, 10 January 2011 09:33:30 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 17 December 2010
Genealogy News Corral Dec. 13-17
Posted by Diane

  • Another new database from Library and Archives Canada is Medals, Honours and Awards, containing more than 113,000 references to medal registers, citation cards and records of military awards. It also has digitized images of some medal registers. You can search the database by name, regiment, rank and more; if you find a match, you’ll learn the medal awarded, the related battle or conflict, and a citation for the record containing the information. Because no service files exist for the Canadian military in the 1800s, these records may provide the only proof of service for 19th-century conflicts. 
  • FamilySearch has added nearly four million new digital images—nearly 1.7 million of them indexed—to its historical records collection. The additions include records from South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Guatemala, the Netherlands and the United States. Visit FamilySearch for a list of the collection titles with the new images, and how many of the records are indexed. Unindexed collections aren’t searchable, instead, you’ll need to browse those collections and view the records to find your ancestor’s name.
  • Richard Heaton e-mailed us about his site called Last Chance To Read, a searchable collection of thousands of pages of scarce British and Irish newspapers and other publications, most printed between 1710 and 1870. Once you register for a free account, you can do a search and order PDF copies of articles for about $4.75 via PayPal. See included titles here (scroll down).  
  • RootsMagic released a free update to version 4, version, which update adds several user-requested features and fixes a number of issues. Users may be automatically notified to download the update; if not, open the program and go to Help>Check for Updates or click here.

Canadian roots | FamilySearch | Genealogy Software | Military records | Newspapers | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 17 December 2010 16:06:12 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 14 December 2010
Genealogy Gems Podcast App for Droid
Posted by Diane

Genealogy Gems podcaster Lisa Louise Cooke just released the Genealogy Gems Podcast App for Android phones. It allows genealogists to stream the entire catalog of 100-plus podcast episodes, as well as access bonus content such as videos, PDF files and more.

The new app is compatible with OS 1.6 or later. It’s available for $2.99 in the Android Marketplace or through the AppBrain website

Got an iPhone? Earlier this year, Cooke released the Genealogy Gems Podcast App for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

You can learn more about genealogy apps for mobile devices on the Mobile Genealogy website.

Genealogy Software | Podcasts
Tuesday, 14 December 2010 09:59:23 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 03 December 2010
Genealogy News Corral Nov. 30-Dec. 3
Posted by Diane

Registration for the full event ranges from $175 to $245, depending whether you’re an NGS member, whether you make the early bird deadline (March 11), and whether you want a printed syllabus. You also can register for a single day of the conference, which costs $95 to $115.
  • Family networking site has launched Family Tree Builder 5.0, the latest version of its free genealogy software. New features include to-do lists, a Tree Consistency Checker (helps find mistakes in your family tree data by automatically identifying errors and inconsistencies in 40 categories), improved privacy settings, support for your DNA test results, custom reports, and the customizable family tree charts announced recently.

Learn more about Family Tree Builder at

  • The New England Historic Genealogical Society, which announced its new site in August, has officially deactivated the website (the old URL redirects to the new site). You can get a tutorial on searching the databases in the March 2011 Family Tree Magazine, on sale Jan. 11.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Friday, 03 December 2010 14:08:44 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Genealogists Join to Build a Better GEDCOM
Posted by Diane

In an effort to “build a better GEDCOM,” a group of genealogists and programmers have established a wiki workspace called BetterGEDCOM

GEDCOM (for GEnealogy Data COMmunication) is the language genealogy software programs use to communicate with each other—when you export family data from your genealogy software, you create either a file native to that program or a GEDCOM file that other genealogy programs and websites can read.

(Get help creating a GEDCOM from's free GEDCOM Basics article.)

But the GEDCOM file format has some shortcomings—one being that it hasn’t been updated in 14 years.

“In the meantime, genealogists have incorporated tools with expanded capabilities reflecting changing technology," says Russ Worthington, a genealogy lecturer and software “power user.”

GEDCOM files you export from your genealogy software may leave out some of your research. “The current GEDCOM file exchange strips out much of my hard work, leaving only some of the data I've typed and attached to each well-documented ancestor,” says genealogy blogger DearMYRTLE. “We experience similar problems when uploading and downloading our genealogy data with popular genealogy websites."

More GEDCOM problems are pointed out in this DearMYRTLE blog post.

The BetterGEDCOM wiki allows genealogy software programmers, website developers and end users to collaborate on developing better data exchange standards. Organizers hope this will facilitate sharing between researchers who use a variety of technology platforms, genealogy products and services. 

"We also seek to account for language and cultural differences as we develop data standards for recording family history information." says Greg Lamberson, the technician who developed the wiki’s initial pages. "Input from BetterGEDCOM participants the world over is a vital component."

BetterGEDCOM plans to codify standards, giving genealogy software developers a framework to resolve problems, and will seek recognition by international standards organizations.

Click here to visit the BetterGEDCOM wiki; the “Where do I start?” section on the home page and the “What is BetterGEDCOM?” link on the left are good places to begin. Anyone can join the effort—just click Join at the top to register.

Confused by computer file formats? Consult our free computer file format glossary on to learn what your mystery file is.

Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | Tech Advice
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 09:35:46 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 04 November 2010
Family Tree Maker for Mac Now Available
Posted by Grace has launched the long-awaited Mac version of its Family Tree Maker genealogy software.

The press release states Family Tree Maker 2010 for Mac "is constructed from the bottom up to take full advantage of the Mac platform in terms of technology and user experience," but the features listed are very similar to those in the PC version:
  • searching: Search subscription genealogy site from Family Tree Maker and merge historical records and information you find into Family Tree Maker. You'll need an subscription to view most search results; the software comes with either a free trial or subscription to, depending which you opt to purchase.
  • Multimedia support: You can add photos, documents, audio, video and other media files to the people in your tree. Tools let you scan photos and document images right into your tree.
  • Family books, charts and reports: A strength of Family Tree Maker is the ability to publish attractive family tree charts and books.
  • Slideshows: Create slideshows from photos in your tree
  • Source citation: Standard source templates and other tools to help you cite sources.
  • Migration information: Timelines and interactive maps help you visualize family migrations and other events.
If you're switching from the PC version, you'll be able to transfer files directly into Family Tree Maker 2010 for Mac from Family Tree Maker version 4 through Family Tree Maker 2006. To import files from Family Tree Maker 2008 or a later version, you can use the Windows-based conversion tool included with Family Tree Maker for Mac.

Look for our review of Family Tree Maker for Mac in an upcoming issue of Family Tree Magazine.

Pricing starts at $69.99 at (The PC version starts at $39.95.) You also can pick it up in retail stores, including Apple Stores, Amazon, Best Buy, Office Depot and Office Max.

System requirements include an Intel-based Mac with OSX 10.5.8 or later, 500MB available disk space for installation, and internet access (for web integration).

(Just a reminder -- Family Tree Magazine is not affiliated with Family Tree Maker software.)

If you're in the market for Mac genealogy software, check out the product ratings in the July 2008 Family Tree Magazine, available as a digital download from Get the lowdown on genealogy software for Macs or PCs in's free Software Guide. | Genealogy Software
Thursday, 04 November 2010 09:15:06 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 15 October 2010
Genealogy News Corral: Oct. 11-15
Posted by Diane

We’ve got a host of announcements in this week’s roundup:
  • BackupMyTree, the free genealogy file back-up service that debuted last month, has added support for Reunion for Mac. Although the BackupMyTree software still works with only Windows, users of any operating system can manually upload files—now including Reunion files—through their web browser. Next week, BackupMyTree will add support for The Master Genealogist software, as well as a feature that allows users to include and exclude files in bulk.
  • Genetic genealogy testing company GeneTree is offering two new services designed to help you maximize your genetic genealogy testing efforts. If you buy a DNA Makeover report ($14.95), GeneTree staff will translate your Y-chromosome or mitochondrial DNA results from another lab into a GeneTree profile. For the Family Tree Diagnostic Service (also $14.95), a GeneTree consultant will review your family tree to find relatives you should consider having tested and what tests they should take to help you achieve your research objectives.
  • Leland Meitzler, organizer of the Salt Lake Christmas Tour annual research trip to Salt Lake City, announced that genealogy technology and social networking expert Thomas MacEntee will present eight classes during this year’s tour. A few topics are Building a Research Toolbox, Facebook for Genealogists, Build a Genealogy Blog, and Twitter: It Isn’t Just “What I Had For Breakfast” Anymore. The tour takes place Dec. 5 through 11, and you can register here
  • The Pennsylvania State Archives will close from Monday, Oct. 18 through Feb. 3 of next year for renovations. The $250,000 project will expand and modernize the lobby and public research areas. (Plans are still in place, though, to eventually replace the facility, which has water leaks and lacks environmental controls and fire suppression system.) Staff will continue to respond to telephone, e-mail and postal inquiries during the closure. You can download the press release as a PDF from the archives’ website. | census records | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Software | Genetic Genealogy | Libraries and Archives | Webinars
Friday, 15 October 2010 15:39:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 08 October 2010
Genealogy News Corral: Oct. 4-8
Posted by Diane

  • A friendly reader told us about another genealogy app for the iPhone called Traces, which searches the databases at the FamilySearch beta site. The reader (who’s not affiliated with the product other than using it) recommends it as “far and away the best iPhone app ... I've found to facilitate actual genealogy research and database searching.” See a list of iPhone/iTouch genealogy apps on the website.
  • The National Archives is holding a day-long symposium called The Civil War: Fresh Perspectives on Saturday, Nov. 20, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m, at its Washington, DC headquarters. It’ll feature panel discussions related to themes from the archives’ special exhibit, Discovering the Civil War. Registration is required, along with a fee of $50. Click here to learn more and register.
  • UK family history subscription website and FamilySearch are beginning a project to digitize the Greater Manchester County Record Office’s cemetery registers and institutional records (from gaols, schools and workhouses), which date as far back as the 16th century. When the project is complete, you’ll be able to search indexes free at FamilySearch. The indexed information will link to the records at, where you’ll be able to view the record images for a fee.
  • There’s more for those with UK roots: has added 60 more years of town plans and other maps to its collection, which now covers 1850 to 1996. In addition, new spy maps produced by the Russian military from 1950 to 1997 cover 16,000 sq km of the UK, including 103 major towns and cities. You can search and browse maps for free and purchase printed or downloadable PDF versions.

FamilySearch | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software | NARA | UK and Irish roots | Vital Records
Friday, 08 October 2010 15:10:24 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 01 October 2010
Genealogy News Corral: Sept. 27-Oct. 1
Posted by Diane

  • The UK family history subscription and pay-per-view site has launched a collection of transcribed Devon parish records in association with the Devon Family History Society. The records include baptisms from 1813 to 1839, marriages from 1754 to 1837, and burials for 1813 to 1837.
  • Cheri Hunter of Decatur, Ill. will receive the Community Service Award
  • Fred Katko of Peoria, Ill., will receive the Special Recognition Award
  • Christian Bender a student from Oglesby, Ill., will receive the Youth Award
  • Curt Witcher Senior Manager for Special Collections at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind., will receive the Distinguished Service Award
  • Margaret Collins of Springfield, Ill., and Daniel W. Dixon, of Auburn, Ill., will receive the Individual Writer Award as co-winners.

  • In a late addition to today's roundup, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society announced today that all issues of the society's NYG&B Record (563 issues dating back to 1870) are accessible to society members on the society's website. You can search every word of the issues, or use a new surname search engine.

Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | UK and Irish roots
Friday, 01 October 2010 10:30:31 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 13 September 2010
Free Genealogy Backup Service Launches Today
Posted by Diane

BackUpMyTree, a free online backup service for your genealogy files, launched today.

After you install BackupMyTree software, created by the team behind Pearl Street Software and its Family Tree Legends genealogy program (purchased by MyHeritage in 2007), the software will automatically find family tree files on your computer. It creates a remote, off-site backup you can restore if necessary, and maintains multiple previous versions of your files.

You also can opt to manually upload files through your browser, rather than install the BackupMyTree software.

The service is free. “In the future, we will offer a Pro version of our service for a small yearly fee,” says creator Cliff Shaw. “This version will offer more features, but we will always keep the free version the way it is.”

In addition, there’s no limit on the file size you can store—yet. “If we impose some sort of limit in the future, it will be a very high limit, and we will let all our users know,” Shaw says.

Note that photos and other media included in your tree aren’t yet backed up. According to the site’s FAQ: “We plan on adding this in the near future. Family Tree Maker [genealogy software] often stores photos inside the file, so these photos are backed up as a function of being included in the file.”

BackupMyTree software works on Windows systems. The service supports the genealogy applications Family Tree Maker, Personal Ancestral File, RootsMagic 4, Legacy Family Tree, Family Tree Legends, Family Tree Builder, and GenoPro.

Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | Tech Advice
Monday, 13 September 2010 11:31:45 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Tuesday, 31 August 2010
Family Tree Maker 2011 Released
Posted by Diane

Online genealogy company has released Family Tree Maker 2011, an updated version of its genealogy desktop software.

You can purchase Family Tree Maker with a full subscription or a free trial. The software also comes with either a printed or electronic Companion Guide. It starts at $39.95 online at and at some retail stores.

The 2011 version has more than 100 improvements, including:

Smart Stories: An editor that lets you drag and drop text and photos from your Family Tree Maker tree into story pages that update automatically when you make changes to your tree.

Timelines: You’ll be able to find and add more events to your ancestors' timelines and add your own historical events.

Charts: The 2011 version has four new fan chart styles. You can enhance charts with backgrounds, borders and embellishments, and change fonts based on fact type.

Improved integration: A hallmark of Family Tree Maker is its ability to search’s records collections for people in users’ family trees when the computer is connected to the internet. An subscription is required to see results. Uploading and downloading of your tree is faster in version 2011, and you can see your Member Connect activity and related message board posts right on your home page.

Media management: Drag and drop, cut and paste, and categorize multiple items at the same time. A new tool helps you locate missing media files.

Enhanced reports: Ancestor and descendant reports have been enhanced, and there’s a new surname report. You can now sort your custom reports, and save and reuse report settings. is holding a free Family Tree Maker 2011 webinar Sept. 15 at 8 pm Eastern. You can register by clicking here. | Genealogy Software
Tuesday, 31 August 2010 08:35:40 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 06 August 2010
Genealogy News Corral: Aug. 2-6
Posted by Diane

  • Families is a new app for the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad that works in conjunction with  the windows-based family tree program Legacy Family Tree. You can transfer Legacy family files from your PC to your mobile device, then view and edit them. (You’ll need to download a free program called Families Sync to your PC in order to transfer the files.) Families is available at the Apple App store. Learn more on the Families website.

Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives | UK and Irish roots | Vital Records
Friday, 06 August 2010 13:40:59 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Friday, 30 July 2010
Genealogy News Corral: July 26-30
Posted by Diane

Family Tree Magazine’s own Photo Detective, Maureen A. Taylor, will be providing free 10-minute photo consultations in the FamilySearch booth at the FGS conference, Aug. 19-21 in Knoxville, Tenn. You may bring one photo and must reserve a consultation online (looks like Aug. 19 is almost sold out).

Last year, the governor of Michigan announced a restructuring that abolished the state Department of History, Arts and Libraries, which encompassed the Library of Michigan and its genealogy collection. Though the fate of the collection is still unknown, a Library Journal update reports the genealogy collection is still located at the library, which is operating with reduced finding and staff. See the full update here.

Synium Software released Mac Family Tree 6 this week with features including a new tree editor, new reports and charts and integration with FamilySearch databases. The software requires requires Mac OS X 10.5 or 10.6 and runs on both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs.

A new Chickasaw Cultural Center opened in Sulphur, Okla., with exhibits including a Traditional Village, Spirit Forest and Removal Experience, as well as a Research Center with genealogical, archeological and photo collections. The Chickasaw, one of the Five Civilized Tribes, were forcibly removed to Indian Territory from their homes in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee in the 1830s.

American Indian roots | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Software | Libraries and Archives
Friday, 30 July 2010 09:33:45 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 29 April 2010
Three News Announcements From
Posted by Diane senior vice president of product Eric Shoup made three news announcements at a reception the online genealogy company hosted this evening:

1. Shoup previewed’s new search features, some of which  have already been implemented (such as the filters I blogged about last week). Features to be added “in the near future” include
  • more prominent browsing by place (right down to a county, which got applause from the audience), record category and collection

  • a simplified basic search form that asks for name and place of residence (it includes a calculator to help you determine a birth year based on your ancestor’s age at a specific time)

  • pages with historical information and basic facts about counties, as well as additional resources outside of
You can see what the new search eventually will look like here.

2. is launching a new, free wiki with all the information from the references Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources edited by Alice Eichholz, and The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy edited by Lorretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargraves Luebking (these books will remain available in print through Turner Publishing, which took over’s book business earlier this year). A wiki is a site anyone can contribute to and edit to update and correct the information. The Wiki is available now in beta.

3. Mac users, listen up: will make its Family Tree Maker genealogy software available for Macs. Shoup said that’ll happen before the end of the year. | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 29 April 2010 00:21:25 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Thursday, 19 November 2009
Free MyHeritage CD With January 2010 Issue
Posted by Diane

If you’ve already gotten your January 2010 Family Tree Magazine, you’ll notice it’s wrapped with a little present: a CD containing free FamilyTreeBuilder software from MyHeritage, a genealogy and family networking website.

The CD works on Windows 98 or newer. Pop in the CD and the download should begin automatically. If it doesn’t, use the finder to navigate to your CD drive and click on the icon. Need technical help or have questions about the software? See the MyHeritage Help Center or Family Tree Builder pages.

The CD comes with both subscriber issues (now being delivered) and newsstand issues (available Dec. 1 at bookstores and on

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 19 November 2009 10:00:54 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Download Free RootsMagic Essentials Software
Posted by Diane

RootsMagic, maker of RootsMagic desktop genealogy software for Windows, has released a free version called RootsMagic Essentials. The program contains many core features found in its namesake.

It’s designed for people who want to start using genealogy software, but aren’t yet ready to purchase a full-fledged program. RootsMagic Essentials offers the ability to
  • add an unlimited number of people and events to your tree
  • add pictures and media management
  • write source citations using the SourceWizard
  • create dozens of reports and charts
  • share data with other people and software programs.
It can directly import data from Personal Ancestral File, Family Tree Maker (through version 2006), Family Origins and Legacy Family Tree. It reads and writes data using the GEDCOM format.

The full version of RootsMagic 4, which includes additional faeatures, is available for $29.95. See the website for more details.

Speaking of the web, RootsMagic unveiled a sleek new site today. The navigation tabs with drop-down menus neatly organize the site’s content so it’s easy to find.

You can download trial versions of other RootsMagic programs, too, including Personal Historian, FamilyAtlas and Family Reunion Organizer.

Genealogy Software
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 13:30:19 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Family Tree Maker 2010 Released
Posted by Diane

Capturing your family’s story in a meaningful way appears to be the focus of updates to Family Tree Maker 2010, released today from

New and improved features to this popular genealogy software will help you build your family tree, record memories, and organize photos, stories, videos and audio clips so you can more easily share your family's story.
More specifically, the updates include
  • better tools to create family books from information and photos in your tree

  • the ability to create and export slide shows from photos in your tree

  • scanner support that lets you add photos to your tree right from your scanner and organize them into categories at the same time

  • the ability to track relatives’ migration paths by mapping locations of events such as births, marriages and deaths with Microsoft Bing Maps

  • an improved relationship calculator that lets you view relationships between any two people in your tree

  • a new timeline report and updates to the family group sheet and genealogy reports

  • standard source templates that make it easier to cite a variety of types of sources

  • extended-family birthday and anniversary calendars
Like previous versions, when you’re connected to the Internet, Family Tree Maker 2010 automatically searches genealogy databases on for records about people in your family tree. You need an subscription to view any matching documents.

See an overview and screenshots of Family Tree Maker 2010 here. You can purchase it online for $39.95 (includes a two-week trial subscription); shipping is free for a limited time. There's no upgrade option. (Clarification here in response to a comment: There's not a lower-price version on the Web site for 2009 users looking to upgrade, but yes, you can upgrade from 2009 to 2010.)

The software also will be available in stores. | Genealogy Software
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 11:57:44 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [9]
# Thursday, 13 August 2009
Free Genealogy Software Adds Maps, Albums and More
Posted by Diane

Family and genealogy Web site released an updated version of its free, downloadable of Family Tree Builder software that lets users create maps, chat with relatives and organize multimedia albums.

According to MyHeritage, Family Builder is the world’s most popular free family tree software, with more than 5 million downloads. It's available in 35 languages, which certainly makes it attractive to a worldwide audience.

Key features in the new release include:
  • a map module that lets you display where your family lived over the years, map relatives’ addresses and quickly find your photos associated with a particular place

  • a new toolbar that provides direct access to family Web sites on MyHeritage; birthday reminders; and a text, audio and video chat system called Family Chat

  • an improved album lets you organize photos, videos and documents, and adds slide shows
Family Builder runs on Windows. If you've used it, click Comments and let us know what you think.

Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Thursday, 13 August 2009 09:17:24 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 23 April 2009
FamilyLink Releases Free Photo-Sharing App for iPhone
Posted by Diane

If you have an Apple iPhone, FamilyLink has developed a free application that will let you share photos with family.

From the announcement: “FamCam is the simplest way to send photos privately and securely to family members. Send any photo from your phone with a couple clicks. Create persistent family groups just for photo sharing.”

Here’s a bit more information from Apptism.

Click here to download FamCam from iTunes.

Genealogy Software | Social Networking
Thursday, 23 April 2009 09:18:24 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Monday, 20 April 2009
Can Genealogy Web Sites Make it Easier to Cite Sources?
Posted by Diane

Wouldn’t it be great if you could find information about your ancestor on a database site such as, FamilySearch or Footnote, and just click to add the ancestor information and a properly formatted source citation to your genealogy software?

Mark Tucker, the software architect who blogs at Think Genealogy, says the technology exists to make this happen. He created a video to prove it.

It sure looks simple: On a sample Web site he'd set up, Tucker clicks a "quick citation" link next to digitized pages from a family history book. Then, switching back to his RootsMagic 4 software, he shows how the source citation and information about his ancestor has been automatically exported to the software. (Tucker says this also could work in Family Tree Maker 2009 and Legacy Family Tree 7.)

At the end of the video, he encourages you to contact database companies you use to encourage them to adopt this easy method of source citation. You also can take a survey about your source citation needs.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software | Videos
Monday, 20 April 2009 08:34:15 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [6]
# Wednesday, 25 March 2009
RootsMagic 4 Officially Launches
Posted by Diane

RoostMagic has officially launched version 4 of its popular genealogy software (the company issued a public beta test March 5).

Developers say version 4, which won awards at the recent FamilySearch Developers Conference for its compatibility with the "New FamilySearch" online tree-tracker, is a "complete rewrite."

(New FamilySearch is being rolled out to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members, and will eventually be part of the FamilySearch Web site.)

You can download or upgrade RootsMagic 4 now; CD orders will ship April 20. The cost is $29.95 ($19.95 for an upgrade or—for a limited time—a switch from several other programs). You also can purchased the software bundled with other RootsMagic products.

See the RootsMagic Web site for screen shots and an in-depth look at the updates. Look for our review in the July 2009 Family Tree Magazine, on newsstands May 5.

Genealogy Software
Wednesday, 25 March 2009 11:34:02 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 12 March 2009
FamilySearch Names Winning Genealogy Programs
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch has announced the winners of its new genealogy software award program.

To be eligible, programs had to be compatible with FamilySearch’s Application Programming Interface (API), which allows developers to make their programs work with the FamilySearch site (including the “New Family Search” online tree-building tool, now being gradually rolled out to LDS members).

The 2009 FamilySearch Software Award winners, which include desktop programs, online tools and developers’ tools, were named last night at the FamilySearch Developers Conference in Provo, Utah.

Here's the list (click a program’s name to visit its Web site):

Desktop Productivity
Ancestral Quest (Incline Software): Best Listing Tool
FamilyInsight (Ohana Software): Best Standardizer
RootsMagic 4 (RootsMagic): Best Dashboard

Desktop Syncing or Tree-Cleaning
Ancestral Quest (Incline Software): Most Comprehensive Syncing
FamilyInsight (Ohana Software): Best Person Separator
RootsMagic 4 (RootsMagic): Easiest to Sync

Desktop Use of Media
Charting Companion (Progeny Software): Best for Desktop Printing

Web Productivity
Grow Branch (US Family Tree): Best Web Site Feature for Publishing
(LDS Church members can use this service to submit ancestors for temple work.)

Web Use of Media
Generation Maps: Best Web Site Feature for Printing
TreeSeek: Best Web Site Feature for Mapping (requires users to have a “New Family Search” account)
Developers Choice Awards
David Pugmire’s Best API Library
Ben Godard’s fs-ubiquity: Potential Future Impact on the Genealogy Industry

See's genealogy software guide for information desktop programs for Mac and Windows.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Software
Thursday, 12 March 2009 10:05:39 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [3]
# Thursday, 05 March 2009
RootsMagic 4 Public Beta Test Launched
Posted by Diane

RootsMagic has announced a public beta test of RootsMagic 4 genealogy software (for Windows). During the beta period, which until March 31, you can download and try out the software free.

RootsMagic president Bruce Buzbee calls version 4 “the biggest release in our 20-year history of making genealogy software.”

New features include integrated web searching, improved source citation, sharing events among multiple persons, creating pre-defined groups of persons, person and place mapping, recording DNA tests and improved navigation and data entry.

RootsMagic 4 includes RootsMagic To-Go, which lets you install the program onto a USB drive, transfer data between it and your computer, and take your data with you anywhere. (Look for our article on running genealogy software from a flash drive in the May 2009 Family Tree Magazine.)

The program can directly import data from Personal Ancestral File, Family Tree Maker (through version 2006), Family Origins and Legacy Family Tree. It’s certified to work with “New FamilySearch,” FamilySearch’s Web-based program that’s being rolled out to LDS churches and will eventually be publicly available.

See an in-depth rundown of new features on the RootsMagic blog. Click here to register for the beta version; you'll get an e-mail with a link and registration key.

Addition: I asked Buzbee what happens when your RootsMagic 4 beta version expires. After March 31, the beta version reverts to a trial version, which has some disabled features and limits the amount of information you can enter. If you want to save what you entered in the beta version, you should export a GEDCOM before March 31.

Genealogy Software
Thursday, 05 March 2009 08:30:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, 21 November 2008
Target Carries UK-Based Genealogy Software
Posted by Diane

Genealogy software Family Historian, which released version 3 earlier this year, is now available stateside at 1,500 Target stores (but not through, it appears), as well as at Micro Center and Fry's.

The software, from British-based Calico Pie, Ltd., is known for its family tree charts and diagrams, particularly the unique “All Relatives” diagram that even includes in-laws, and the “Everyone” diagram that shows everyone in your file and their relationships.

You can browse and edit individual files using diagrams. With Smart Trees, you hide, show, move, resize and re-order people and branches, and watch the trees adjust themselves to reflect your changes.

Family Historian claims to be the only program that’s 100 percent GEDCOM compatible and “GEDCOM complete”—meaning it saves and reads all fields in a GEDCOM file. (GEDCOM is the standard file format for genealogy software.)

The program runs on Windows 98 and higher. It's available as a $56 download through the manufacturer's Web site.

If you buy the boxed CD at US retailers (blogger Dick Eastman found it at his Target for $49.99; it's $69.99 on the Micro Center and Fry's Web sites), you get a 6-month membership to World Vital Records and a CD on doing genealogy online.

You can try out Family Historian with a free 30-day trial.

Randy Seaver at the Genea-Musings blog has been reporting on his Family Historian test drive in a series of posts, starting here.

Genealogy Software
Friday, 21 November 2008 14:11:53 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 02 October 2008
Genealogy Software News: User Reviews, AGES-Online, Family Tree Maker
Posted by Allison

A few software tidbits that came across our desktops recently:

  • Wonder about other family historians’ opinions of the genealogy software you’re considering buying? Take a peek at Genealogy Software Reviews, a site dedicated to evaluations by average users.

    It works much like the customer review sections on and other e-tailers: Users rate a product from one to five stars based on how much they use it and like it, as well as write comments about the software—which range from a sentence to several paragraphs (in general, don’t expect in-depth analysis).

    Genealogy Software Reviews covers the full gamut of family tree software: full-featured programs, add-ons, freeware, shareware, more than 360 programs in all (who knew so many existed?). That does include some long-defunct programs, such as ROOTS and Ultimate Family Tree. We suggest searching for a particular program, or filtering by category to browse the type of program you’re interested.
  • Web-based genealogy software AGES-Online has improved the system so you can more easily collaborate with others on building your tree: You can now set up additional users within your account, and specify the level of access you want each one to have for adding and editing data. AGES offers a free 30-day trial, with subscription plans ranging from $39.95 to $109.95 a year.

  • Several folks have inquired about how to get their free upgrades to Family Tree Maker 2009. I did a little digging on the Ancestry corporate blog, and learned that registered version 2008 users were supposed to receive an e-mail with a download code for their free upgrade—but comments on the company blog and message boards indicate some didn’t receive their invitations.

    A thread on the Ancestry blog says, “If you registered a US or Canadian 2008 version of Family Tree Maker and didn’t receive the email … please let us know here in a comment.” So post there, and if you don’t get a response within a few days, we suggest contacting that company directly at (800) 262-3787.

Genealogy Software
Thursday, 02 October 2008 10:44:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Friday, 29 August 2008
Family Tree Maker 2009 Released
Posted by Diane

The Generations Network just announced the release of Family Tree Maker 2009. It’s largely version 2008 with all its patches plus improved functionality, but it does have some new features.

Those include charts and reports, such as hourglass, bowtie (shown below), 180-degree fan and others (in case you’re wondering, there’s no need to be signed up with Ancestry Publishing to generate these reports).

Automatic backups and more-powerful global data manipulation are other updates. See the full list of new features.

Several patches are planned for Family Tree Maker 2009 that'll add book-building, better integration with the subscription data service, an improved relationship calculator and more.

Senior product manager Michelle Pfister says planning these patches will let TGN stick to a regular schedule of new releases (which retail distributors require) while putting final touches on what's covered in the patches. It also lets Family Tree Maker fans look forward to more features throughout the year.

Are there Family Tree Maker fans left after the problems many users had with version 2008? Yes, say Pfister and the software's development manager Mark LeMonnier. More than 300 users beta tested version 2009—an increase over version 2008 testers—and you can expect better functionality as a result, says LeMonnier. “Performance and stability have been our main focus,” he adds.

The 2009 version will read Family Tree Maker files back to version 4 (which takes you to the mid-1990s). To learn more about it, see

If you purchased Family Tree Maker 2008, don’t buy version 2009—registered 2008 users are eligible to upgrade for free. If that’s you, during early to mid-September, you’ll receive an e-mail with instructions and a coupon code good for 2009 in the Ancestry store.

The offer will be available for a limited time, but Pfister says there'll be follow-up e-mails, so if you just ordered 2008, you still have time to register the software and be eligible for the free upgrade.

Get more information on the free upgrade offer on’s blog. (By the way, note Family Tree Magazine is not affiliated with Family Tree Maker software.)

Here are a couple more Family Tree Maker 2009 views:

The people and family view

A family tree report you can generate | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software
Friday, 29 August 2008 09:57:53 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 20 August 2008
Family Tree Maker 2009 Coming Soon; '08 Users Can Upgrade Free
Posted by Diane

An spokesperson confirmed blog reports (found here and here) of the impending release of Family Tree Maker 2009 and free upgrades for registered users of version 2008.

Public relations manager Anastasia Tyler says the 2009 version of the widely used genealogy program is scheduled for release Sept. 3, which coincides with the upcoming Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference., where you can pre-order the software in packages priced from $29.99 to $99.99, has given the release date as Aug. 26, as have other bloggers.

Tyler also said registered 2008 users will have the opportunity to receive free upgrades—so make sure you’ve registered your software.

She didn’t elaborate on new or updated features, but Dick Eastman posted a description he found online (I couldn’t find that page on—if you can, help a girl out and post a comment with a link).

Update: A reader located the info on version 2009—thanks, Linda! | Genealogy Software
Wednesday, 20 August 2008 11:33:04 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [16]
# Tuesday, 08 July 2008
It's Getting Crowded In Here ...
Posted by Diane

There’s another Insider in the genealogy blogging world: Bruce Buzbee of the genealogy software company RootsMagic started his blog with a post called "The RootsMagic 'Insider.'"

He also announces "RootsMagic 4 is coming," which we didn’t doubt, but he sorta leaves us hanging on when. He does promise it’ll be the biggest upgrade ever, and all the changes will be revealed on the RootsMagic blog—in reverse order of magnitude.

The marketing brilliance is blinding! We'll be paying attention. He also included a good video about how to subscribe to blogs using a blog reader.

Genealogy Software
Tuesday, 08 July 2008 16:02:44 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 18 March 2008
News From the BYU Computerized Genealogy Conference
Posted by Diane

Family Tree Magazine’s contributing editor and technology guru Rick Crume crashed the Brigham Young University Computerized Genealogy Conference  last weekend in Provo, Utah.

He reports more than 700 attendees absorbed nearly 100 presentations and explored a large exhibit area. Here's what Rick had to say about developments he uncovered there:

FamilySearch makeover update
The revamped Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Family History Library Web site, still in the testing stage, is gradually being rolled out to the church’s temple districts around the world. It’ll be open to the general public once data security issues are addressed.

“New” FamilySearch offers collaboration, multimedia and improved searching. It’ll attempt to consolidate all the family information located in several databases on “old” FamilySearch.

As a shared database open for users to collaborate on, the new FamilySearch is fundamentally different from the current site, which doesn’t let you alter data someone else submitted. You’ll be able to submit information to the new site in GEDCOM format, but you can’t download data as a GEDCOM.

Working with other service providers is the new site’s strong suit. Several genealogy programs, including Ancestral Quest, Legacy Family Tree and RootsMagic (but not Family Tree Maker or FamilySearch’s own Personal Ancestral File), will let you synchronize the family files on your computer with New FamilySearch. And you’ll be able to use these programs free at Family History Centers for three years.

Progeny’s Charting Companion utilities  will combine family information from the renewed site with photos from another site to create a photo family tree chart. And Generations Maps will let you order a chart made from names on the new FamilySearch.

Work is underway to digitize the Family History Library’s collection. FamilySearch Labs' Record Search already lets you search millions of indexed names.

How many searches was that?
Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of The Generations Network, rattled off a string of statistics on his company, whose divisions include, RootsWeb, and

Amazingly, still ranks as the third most popular genealogy Web site, even though TGN virtually abandoned the site after acquiring it several years ago.

Sullivan noted processes 20 million search requests a day. TGN has invested almost $69 million to digitize records over the past 10 years; $10 million a year now goes toward digitization. In the works: scanning some of the National Archives’ 9 billion undigitized documents.

Sullivan emphasized RootsWeb will remain free despite the change in its domain name to

From the genealogy social networking front ...
Genealogy social networking sites are multiplying like crazy. Geni now has a million registered users. A new entrant in the field, Family Pursuit, lets you and your relatives use a Web-based genealogy program to collaborate on family history research.’s upgraded online family tree, PedigreeSoft, will debut in two or three months with a new URL,

And some new products and services
  • Family Photoloom, which should be available this month, lets you tag faces in photos and link them to genealogical data
  • Heritage Collector lets you organize your digital photos, label people in them and create family history scrapbooks
  • is a wiki that accepts biographies of anyone, famous or not, but the person must be deceased
  •, coming in April, aims to make tracking down your ancestors’ descendants more efficient.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Tuesday, 18 March 2008 15:34:26 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Thursday, 28 February 2008
Get a Taste of MacFamily Tree
Posted by Diane

Synium Software has released a beta version of MacFamily Tree 5.1,
which you can download as a demo. It’ll be available as a final version in early March.

MacFamily Tree 5 debuted in late 2007 for $49. The 5.1 update adds a customizable fan chart, a Media Browser photo gallery, and a more user-friendly interface in the Person, Family, Source and Event edit modes.”

Look for our article on Mac genealogy programs in the July 2008 Family Tree Magazine, on newsstands and May 13.

Genealogy Software
Thursday, 28 February 2008 10:09:46 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Saturday, 09 February 2008
News and Notes from the Family History Expo
Posted by Allison

The first day of MyAncestorsFound’s Family History Expo 2008 saw a flurry of activity in the exhibit hall—here at the Family Tree Magazine booth, I barely had a moment to catch my breath. But today I had the opportunity to cruise the hall and learn about new developments in the industry.

The buzzword for this event has been “New FamilySearch”—referring to the highly anticipated revamp of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ genealogy Web site, which is scheduled to go public in early 2009. Several classes focused on how the new system works, and what it means to genealogists. Developers from AncestralQuest, PAFInsight and RootsMagic genealogy software gave demos on how their programs will “sync” with the New FamilySearch.

Here’s a snapshot of other news:
  • Newcomer FamilyPursuit is a Web-based family tree program that aims to make it easy for families to collaborate on recording and researching genealogy. It’s currently in a public beta phase—you can get sneak peek at its features on the Web site, or sign up to become a tester.
  • Milennia Corp. is preparing to release version 7 of its Legacy Family Tree software in March. The new edition will add wall charts and source templates, among other features
  • GenealogyBank, the subscription Web site for historical newspapers, government records and primary documents, is adding hundreds of Hispanic newspapers to its collection.
  • Ancestry DNA, the genetic genealogy arm of data megasite, will be adding surname groups this spring, along with groups for different geographic locations and haplogroups.
  • Add Family Tree and Me to the list of companies offering decorative family tree charts. Owner Shirlene Dymock aims to provide designs elegant enough to display in your living room—see samples of the layouts, backgrounds and frames online.
  • Online genealogy TV channel RootsTelevision has now posted all the episodes of both PBS “Ancestors” series. You’ll also be able to catch interviews from the Expo on RootsTelevision.
  • Podcaster Lisa Louise Cooke was also busy doing interviews during the Expo. Among the conversations to be featured in upcoming episodes: Richard Black of the Godfrey Memorial Library, Kathy Meade of Swedish church records Web site Genline, and presenter Kathryn Lake Hogan speaking about immigration resources. Visit Genealogy Gems for details on subscribing to this free online radio show.
  • Speaking of Swedish records, Meade tipped me off to a recent news story on about a reinterpretation of Swedish law that would allow more-recent church records to be digitized and posted online—shrinking the 100-year waiting period to 70 or 85. Watch this blog for announcements on where and when those records may become available to you.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | Videos
Saturday, 09 February 2008 23:08:17 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Thursday, 03 January 2008
The Master Genealogist 7.0 Released
Posted by Diane

Wholly Genes Software has released version 7 of The Master Genealogist, billing it in an announcement as “the most comprehensive family history software on the market.” New features include:
  • an Associates Window listing all the people connected to the focus person (for example, as witnesses to an event)
  • customizable pop-up reminders to aid in data entry
  • the ability to make annotations on images
  • more-easily customizable sentences in narratives generated from the program
  • relationship calculation through spouses
  • new filtering and reporting options
The company’s announcement also touts a “long list of interface changes [that] make the program easier to use, especially for novice researchers.” The Master Genealogist is known for its intense orientation to detail which, noted Family Tree Magazine’s April 2002 review of the previous version, resulted in a “steeper learning curve” than other programs.
The Master Genealogist comes in two editions: The Gold Edition ($59 for a download; $79.95 for a CD plus 400-page user manual) has some reports and publication tools—including HTML output for Web pages—not in the Silver Edition ($34 download or $39.95 CD).

The cost to upgrade depends on the version you own; you can upgrade from version 6.12 for $29.95. TMG 7.0 is compatible with Windows 2000, XP or Vista.

Genealogy Software
Thursday, 03 January 2008 08:47:37 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 12 December 2007
PC Magazine Reviews Family Tree Maker 2008
Posted by Diane

Not to beat a dead horse, but has anyone seen PC Magazine’s review of Family Tree Maker 2008?

The reviewer, Lisa Reufenacht, gave it four out of five stars (or circles, or whatever those are). You can kinda tell she doesn’t do a lot of genealogy research. The word GEDCOM is nowhere to be found, and she makes no mention of genealogists' uproar over the software’s functionality problems and missing reports. She also notes Family Tree Maker 2008 is the only genealogy program she knows of offering automatic searching, apparently unaware that’s because both products come from the same company.

Of course the PC Magazine review is intended for a general audience, one not necessarily composed of genealogical enthusiasts. “Within 10 minutes, I had a family history … going back to my great-grandparents on my dad's side,” Reufenacht says. “I didn't have to search for any of the information—Family Tree Maker and did everything for me.”

Makes us a little sad to think about users who’ll be at a loss for what to do when runs out of records (or doesn’t have any) on their ancestors.

Though her review focused heavily on the auto-searching, Reufenacht did hit the nail on the head with this one: Used without a $155.40-per-year subscription, Family Tree Maker loses some its shine.

Look for Family Tree Magazine contributing editor Rick Crume’s Family Tree Maker 2008 review—from a genealogist’s perspective—in our March 2008 issue, on newsstands mid-January (note our magazine is not affiliated with the software).

You can join the Family Tree Maker 2008 discussion in our Product News and Reviews Forum.

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Software
Wednesday, 12 December 2007 14:29:34 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Wednesday, 21 November 2007
Forget Black Friday: Our CDs now on sale!
Posted by Grace

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, you can be sure that we're now barreling towards shopping season. Personally, I avoid malls like the plague on Black Friday. (Though I do indulge in a little Cyber Monday action.)

If you've got some genealogy buffs on your list (or if you've got yourself on your list), you have to check out our new 2006 and 2007 CDs! Every single page of Family Tree Magazine has been turned into a fully searchable, easily navigable and totally hotlinked product that you can take with you wherever you go. You will never have to type another URL again!

The 2007 CD includes all issues from this year, with articles including how to master the US census, the best family history tools ever, and guides to tracing Civil War and WWI ancestors. Also on the 2007 CD are our exclusive state research guides for Indiana, Maine, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming. (We threw in some extras, too!)

The 2006 CD includes articles on 365 ways to trace your roots, 89 family history freebies, five ways to save time online and genetic genealogy explained in plain English. The 2006 issues include our exclusive state research guides for Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Texas.

The files on the CDs are enhanced PDFs, which you can view with the free program Adobe Reader. (If you don't already have Reader, it's available for download here.)

We editors here at Family Tree Magazine put a lot of sweat into making these CDs, and we think you'll find them as handy as we do! Click here to browse our CDs and order online! (If you prefer not to buy online, we do have alternative shopping options.)

Family Tree Magazine articles | Genealogy Software
Wednesday, 21 November 2007 10:27:56 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 14 November 2007
MacFamilyTree 5 Released
Posted by Diane

Synium software has released MacFamilyTree 5, promising a speedier database engine and redesigned user interface. It also integrates a Web hosting service so registered customers can upload their family trees in HTML format for free.

The program is compatible with Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) and 10.5 (Leopard). Download it for $49 or pay $25 to upgrade.

Symium offered MacFamilyTree in beta starting Oct. 1. We review version 4.5, released in July, in the January 2008 Family Tree Magazine.

Genealogy Software
Wednesday, 14 November 2007 09:03:15 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 10 October 2007
Family Tree Maker and Ancestry Press
Posted by Diane

News from The Generations Network about its Family Tree Maker software and AncestryPress service:

The company still plans to release a Family Tree Maker 2008 update this month, calling it a “top priority.” It’ll include fixes for program crashes, data corruption, import and merge bugs, Internet corruption issues, and report complaints (version 2008 lacked some reports, including the all-in-one Genealogy Report, from previous versions).

Ancestry’s blog also has a long list of users’ desired features and their status (for example, in the October update, being considered for future updates, not being considered). Take a look and let us know if your most fervently wished-for update is there!

We’ve heard speculation that some reports were missing from the software because manufacturers were releasing the AncestryPress self-publishing service.

It takes information from your Ancestry Family Tree (which you can create free) or your Family Tree Maker 2008 data (choose to keep it personal if you don’t want it publicly viewable in Ancestry Trees) and creates pages that include illustrated family tree charts, timelines and family group sheets. Then you customize the book with text, images, backgrounds and more.

You can print the book from home, making the service free, or have Ancestry print a book up to 100 pages on nice, glossy paper and bind it with a professional-looking cover. The AncestryPress site was irritatingly unhelpful, though, in giving no discernible prices for ordering a book through AncestryPress. I’ve sent off an e-mailed question; I’ll let you know when I hear.

You also can keep your book project stored in AncestryPress and invite others to view it online. There’s no way to download it, though.

Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 10 October 2007 13:36:38 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 09 October 2007
Utah Brand Books and Software Try-outs
Posted by Diane

Things just haven’t felt the same lately without a new announcement from FamilySearch, so I was glad to hear these updates:

• As part of its records digitization program, FamilySearch has digitized Utah’s historic brand books. You can access the images free at the state archives’ Web site.

City slickers may or may not know brand books show the identifying symbols more than 42,000 Utah ranchers branded onto their livestock (ouch!). Ranchers had to register their brands and ear marks with the state agriculture department.

Books from about 1849 to 1930 are digitized, with images linked to a full text search and name index. Each entry in the brand book can include an illustration of the brand, the name and county of the person registering it, registration date, and the location on the animal’s body.

• At your next Family History Center (FHC) visit, you can log your finds on its computers using the same commercial software or utility you have at home. Or, you can try out a new program—free. Here are the programs newly available on FHC computers:

Genealogy software
  • Ancestral Quest
  • RootsMagic
  • Legacy Family Tree
Genealogy utilities
  • Personal Historian (helps you write about your family)
  • Family Atlas (creates maps based on your family data)
  • Map My Family Tree (creates maps based on your family data)
  • Genelines (helps you create ancestral timelines)
  • Pedigree Analysis (submit your family file for research advice)
  • PAFWiz 2.0 (add-on tools for for Personal Ancestral File)
  • PAF Insight (performs advanced functions for LDS church members using Personal Ancestral File)
  • PAF Companion 5.2 (generates reports for Personal Ancestral File)
Check out the January 2008 Family Tree Magazine, on newsstands Nov. 13, for our software panel test results of four popular programs.

Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Tuesday, 09 October 2007 09:17:28 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 19 September 2007
Family Tree Maker 2008 Service Packs
Posted by Diane

The Generations Network has released a patch called Service Pack 1 to fix performance problems in its recently released Family Tree Maker 2008.

The company sent users an e-mail about Service Pack 1; those who’ve registered their programs should’ve received an automatic update notification upon opening the program. If you didn’t, go to Family Tree Maker’s Web site for instructions on downloading the patch.

The e-mail message also said The Generations Network will release Service Pack 2 in October to restore several popular report formats from previous Family Tree Maker versions. You can read the full text of the e-mail on Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter blog.

Family Tree Maker 2008, a near-complete rewrite of the popular genealogy software, has inspired impassioned commentary from many who've tried it. See what some of them had to say on the Forum.

(PS: I always feel compelled to mention Family Tree Magazine isn't affiliated with Family Tree Maker software.)

Genealogy Software
Wednesday, 19 September 2007 09:56:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Monday, 27 August 2007
Genealogy Companies Merge, You Get Free Stuff
Posted by Diane

A genealogy industry merger is resulting in freebies for you. The Israel-based family networking site MyHeritage has finalized its purchase of software and database company Pearl Street Software, and it’s making Pearl Street’s products free.

Those include the $29.95 Family Tree Legends software and Family Tree Legends Records Collection, which debuted for $29.95 per year in 2005 with a variety of indexes to military, vital, court, biography and other records. Pearl Street also ran the pedigree site GenCircles, known for its SmartMatching technology that matches up duplicate search results for an ancestor. Lately, as owners looked for a buyer, the company's sites have stagnated and customers have noticed dwindling support services.

MyHeritage first made a splash back in 2006 with a facial recognition tool that found users' celebrity look-alikes. More gimmick than anything else, it nonetheless got attention from legions of Web surfers and doubtless padded the site's registered users stat to the current 17 million. (Facial recognition's genealogy application: It could match your uploaded photo of Great-Grandma with one your long-lost cousin submitted.)

The just-revamped MyHeritage is now available in 15 languages andhas a free Immersive Family Tree you can use to post your genealogy. Its “Megadex” search will look for surnames in online databases (results link you to the originating site, where you must be a subscriber to access paid content).

The new Look-alike Meter shows you which parent a child resembles more. And now you can create a collage of your famous twin. (I was a fan of TV’s recently concluded “Gilmore Girls,” so imagine my delight with my 83 percent resemblance to the show's Lauren Graham.)

GenCircles and Family Tree Legends will remain online for now, but MyHeritage is joining the sites' databases. To access the free software and record collection, visit Family Tree Legends.

Genealogy Industry | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, 27 August 2007 11:00:23 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Wednesday, 22 August 2007
More New Stuff Spotted at FGS
Posted by Diane

We’ve blogged about Federation of Genealogical Societies conference news from FamilySearch, The Generations Network, RootsTelevision and us here at Family Tree Magazine. We also found these new products and services meant to make your genealogical life easier:
  • World Vital Records has partnered with the National Genealogical Society to provide society management services including member benefits (in the form of World Vital Records subscription discounts), membership renewal processing, online data hosting and a Web platform (on FamilyLink) for member communication.
  • is a not-yet-available service that matches people who have well-defined research tasks that need doing (such as getting an obituary from library microfilm) with experienced—but not necessarily professional—researchers who'll complete them for a fee. Expect a launch by March 2008.
  • FacTree from The Genealogy Shop is a Windows utility for entering data into your genealogy software. The theory is, you type data into an online form that approximates the source document, and facTree puts the data in the right format and place in your software. You can try it free with the 1880 census; other facTree forms cost $3.50.
  • Ages-Online is a Web-based genealogy program you can access from any Internet-connected computer. It has features similar to traditional software and backs up your data nightly, though not all packages support multimedia files. Subscriptions range from $39.95 (Economy) to $109.95 (Deluxe) per year.
  • Several Web sites, such as Geni, Footnote, WeRelate and FamilyLink, have enhanced or added free social networking features that let you upload photos, post research information, build trees and collaborate with other researchers. Watch upcoming issues of Family Tree Magazine for more information on genealogy social networking.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Industry | Genealogy societies | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 22 August 2007 16:07:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 21 August 2007
Made-Over Family Tree Maker Software Debuts
Posted by Diane

The Generations Network released Family Tree Maker 2008, successor to Family Tree Maker 16, after a brief (and unexpected) beta release period.

(The beta version stops working Aug. 24, so export your GEDCOMs now, folks.)

The new version got an extreme overhaul from the previous one, with a pretty look and new features including:
  • An interface that combines elements of a pedigree chart and a family group sheet  (here's the family view)

  • The ability to merge data from anywhere on the Web into your tree
  • Standardized criteria for rating genealogical sources
  • A place-name dictionary with more than 3 million locations
  • Lists that show people and events associated with a particular place
  • Timelines for your ancestors’ lives
  • Data imports from other programs, including Personal Ancestral File, The Master Genealogist and Legacy Family Tree
Read what Family Tree Magazine readers thought of the beta software in our online forum.

Family Tree Maker 2008 costs $39.95, or $54.95 with The Official Guide to Family Tree Maker 2008. As far as I could tell, an upgrade from Family Tree Maker 16 isn’t available, but we're checking on this.

Note Family Tree Magazine is not affiliated with Family Tree Maker software.

Genealogy Software
Tuesday, 21 August 2007 16:04:47 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [5]
# Saturday, 18 August 2007
FamilySearch starts new records-access project
Posted by Diane

In the next two years, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' FamilySearch will release free online indexes for a long list of genealogical records—150 million images total. Thousands of volunteers are already working fast and furiously on FamilySearch projects to index digitized records, so the church is turning to another source for help with this one: businesses such as The Generations Network, Footnote and others.


For what’s known as the Genesis Project, FamilySearch—the church’s records-scanning arm—has put out a “request for information” seeking interested commercial service providers and records repositories.


FamilySearch will digitize the records, which spokesperson Paul Nauta says is the most expensive part of putting records online, and service providers would index them. Indexes would be free on FamilySearch and on the service provider’s and/or record repository’s Web site.

Targeted record groups include US and British censuses, US county naturalizations, Spanish parish registers, German SS records from the National Archives and Ukraine L’viv church records.
Those entities could choose to charge for access to digitized record images; the images would be free at the LDS church’s Family History Centers.

In other FamilySearch news:

  • FamilySearch’s Family History Library, Allen County Public Library and the Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library are joining to digitize and index 100,000 books in the libraries’ holdings of local and family histories from all across the country. It’ll be the largest collection of its kind on the Web with free access at the BYU library's site. Read more on FamilySearch.
  • Next up for the FamilySearch Indexing Project is the 1930 Mexico Census, Revolutionary War Pensions and Land Warrants, Irish Civil Registration and 1900 US census records for more states.

For more information on FamilySearch records access initiatives, look for the November 2007 Family Tree Magazine, on newsstands and Sept. 11.

FamilySearch | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites | Libraries and Archives
Saturday, 18 August 2007 10:39:11 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 31 July 2007
Free Program Searches Google for Surname Variations
Posted by Diane

Family Tree Magazine author Rick Crume tried out a new, free download for your online genealogy searches. Here's his report:

Whenever you discover a new branch on your family tree, you probably head straight to Google for a surname search. You may meet with success, but you could miss out on a discovery if you don’t carefully word your query and consider alternate surname spellings.

So Matt Combs, a North Carolina software developer and genealogy aficionado, has targeted both problems with a new free program for Windows called Surname Suggestion List.

I downloaded the program and typed in my last name—Crume—and then clicked Search. The program produced 45 name variations in three groups: excellent matches, such as Crume, Crum and Crome; close matches, like Crom, Krum and Groome; and longshots, including Croom and Krom.
I clicked on Crume and hit the Google Search button. The program searched Google for Crume and genealogy, producing 9,350 matches, several with extensive genealogical information. Adding more search terms, such as a first name or a place, whittles the matches to the most relevant sites. I added Bardstown, that family’s Kentucky hometown, and got 113 matches.

To broaden your Surname Suggestion List search, click the Wider Search button. Then the program searches on ~genealogy, which finds genealogy plus synonyms such as family tree. You also can search on a range of years, but I found that option less useful.

You could go directly to Google and search for a last name and genealogy, but the Surname Suggestion List comes up with alternate spellings you might not have thought to check. I’ve come across Crum and Croom in old documents, but I hadn’t considered variations such as Crom, Krum and Groome.

Of course, Surname Suggestion List doesn’t necessarily cover every possibility. (In this case, it didn’t suggest Croome or Groom.) And it'd be nice if you could search on more than one name at a time. Still, the program is a very handy tool for Googling your ancestors.
—Rick Crume

Genealogy Software | Research Tips
Tuesday, 31 July 2007 16:15:36 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 10 July 2007
Try Family Tree Maker 2008 in Beta
Posted by Diane

If you're a technologically adventurous genealogist who loves being first to play with the latest gadget, you can give the next incarnation of Family Tree Maker a whirl.

Family Tree Maker 2008 is slated for official release in August, but The Generations Network is letting you download a beta version now at

(Editorial aside: What's with the erratic version naming? Things were moving along fine with 1 through 11, then we got year names with versions 2005 and 2006, then back to numbers with Family Tree Maker 16, and now we're on version 2008. Is this just to confuse users into thinking they've missed an upgrade?)

Files created with the beta version may or may not open in the release version. Among other warnings (it's almost like the genealogical equivalent of bungee jumping): The beta Family Tree Maker 2008 will stop working August 24, so you should export any stored GEDCOMs before then.

We hear the program interface is radically different with this release, so we're curious about your thoughts. Post them here or on the Product News and Reviews Forum.

Genealogy Software
Tuesday, 10 July 2007 12:05:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [4]
# Wednesday, 23 May 2007
News From NGS
Posted by Allison

Where better to hold a genealogy gathering than the backyard of America’s first permanent English colony?

For this year’s National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference, last week in Richmond, Va., organizers joined in Jamestown’s 400th anniversary celebration: The keynote session explored virtual resources for studying Jamestown’s history, and a descendant of settler John Rolfe and Pocahontas entertained the banquet audience.

With nearby Civil War battlefields, Revolutionary-era sites and Colonial Willliamsburg, Richmond proved a popular location—around 2,000 genealogists reportedly attended the conference this year, up from recent years’ turnout.

Those who stopped by the Family History Fair in the Richmond Convention Center learned of new and forthcoming genealogical products and services. If you didn’t make it—or missed the announcements—here’s the scoop:

• Visitors to the Family History Library’s booth got a sneak peek at the revamped search interface coming to the FamilySearch Web site. The new system not only integrates information from FamilySearch’s various databases, its results also will link to digitized records—though only a tiny fraction of the library’s vast holdings will be available when the site relaunches this fall. (But more record images will be coming online soon: See “Not-So-Silent Partners.”) Booth workers also showed off the easy-to-use FamilySearch Indexing  system—built to help volunteers index the library’s billions of records for eventual online searching. Indexing efforts have ramped up recently; the 1900 census is now in progress (view the list of current projects).

• Several software manufacturers demonstrated new versions of genealogy programs. Incline Software’s Ancestral Quest 12, for example, adds the ability to input DNA testing results and a summary screen for each individual in your file, among other improvements. Version 12 costs $29.95, or you can upgrade for $19.95. Incline also showed off version 2 of PAFWiz, a $24.95 companion to the free Personal Ancestral File software. Look for a review of both programs in the November 2007 Family Tree Magazine.

GenSmarts 2, a $29.95 utility that analyzes your data and suggests next steps, lets you save and export your reports to more file formats (including PDF). It also introduces new reports and the ability to analyze only selected parts of your file. If you purchased the program this year, you get a free upgrade—earlier purchasers get a $10 discount.

• staffers previewed a soon-to-come edition of Family Tree Maker, produced by parent company The Generations Network. If you use Family Tree Maker, you can expect a significant makeover in the next upgrade. The company also promoted Ancestry Press, an online service that will automatically create a book from your family tree on

The biggest news from NGS was the announcement of several partnerships to make more ancestral data and records available to you online—read “Not-So-Silent Partners” for more on this.

Genealogy Events | Genealogy Software | Genealogy Web Sites
Wednesday, 23 May 2007 14:33:49 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]